Flora June Blair’s Birth Story

Flora June Blair turned 13 today. It’s the end of an era. Our youngest is officially a teenager. To mark the day, I thought it would be fun to republish Flora June’s birth story. And be sure to check out the links in the last paragraph for more photos and details.

From June 7, 2010
Today, Flora June Blair is one month old. I can hardly believe it. What was our family like before June arrived? I don’t even remember. To mark the day, I wanted to write down her birth story before I forget the details.

On the phone with the midwife at 3:00 AM. Mid-contraction.

June’s Story

Do you think it’s possible to mentally shut down labor? To stop contractions with your brain because you can’t wrap your head around the day? I think that’s what I did.

You may have seen my Walk of Shame post on May 7th. Early that morning, my brother-in-law, Mark, had answered our middle-of-the-night call and quickly come to our home to watch over our little sleeping flock. At about 3:30am, we checked into the hospital. It was 5 days before my due date. My contractions were strong and coming 3 to 5 minutes apart. I was clearly in active labor and we settled into our birthing room, excited, nervous and ready to have the baby.

Headed to my hospital room. Yay! The baby is almost here. (But not really.)

I’ll be honest, I was sure we would arrive at the hospital and have the baby within the hour. It was going to work out perfectly. The baby would be born around 4:30 or 5:00 AM. We’d be settled into our recovery room by 6:00 AM. Then Ben Blair would head home and be there when the kids awoke. He’d manage their day — make lunches, get kids to and from school and bring them to the hospital that afternoon. Easy peasy.

But after I’d been monitored and checked, I realized the plan wasn’t happening. I was 90% effaced, but only 2 centimeters dilated. At some point, it sunk in that this labor still had a ways to go. That Ben Blair would not be home by 6:00 AM. That I’d need to make like a thousand arrangements to get my 5 other kids through their day. And just like that, my contractions stopped. Completely stopped. (You may wonder why we didn’t have childcare plans in place. We actually did, but I promise, it’s surprisingly difficult to nail anything down when you don’t know the exact day the baby is going to arrive.)

One of the last contractions before I shut things down.

The midwife consulted with me. This was my 6th baby and she was afraid the labor would progress quickly once the contractions started again. She wanted me to stay at the hospital — I could walk the halls and that would probably start things up. But I was 100% sure nothing was going to happen labor-wise until I settled my head, so we went home with a plan to labor there and come back when I was farther along. You can imagine my embarrassment as we sent Mark home, apologizing for dragging him out of bed in the middle of the night. (I’m still blushing!)

We went about our Friday as usual (sort-of as usual — we were missing quite a few hours of sleep). Kids woke up. Dressed and ate. Went to middle school, went to elementary school, went to preschool. Went to dance class. And then, as each child came home and things started settling down for the day, (homework, dinner, baths, pjs, make arrangements for Ralph to go to the Father & Son campout with a substitute day) the contractions started right up again stronger than ever. I am not even kidding you.

We made new childcare plans for the night ahead, and started monitoring contractions.

Doctors typically recommend heading to the hospital when contractions are 3-5 minutes apart. This guideline was in my head and made it hard to know when to call the midwife. The contractions were so hard! I would fall to my knees and rock back on forth on all fours to get through them. But then, I would get these luxurious 9 and 10 minutes breaks between each one which made them manageable. And confusing.

I finally called the midwife to get some advice on when I should come in and how I should manage the contraction pain in the meantime. She heard my voice and told me to come in immediately. So we did.

We showed up at the hospital for the second time that day. It was around 8:00 PM. The midwife, Mary, checked me and told me the baby would arrive in the next half hour or so. She said if we broke my water, the baby would come in just a few minutes. (Random tidbit: 6 pregnancies and my water has never broken on its own.)

Between contractions: Life is great. Let’s chat. Laugh it up.
During contractions: Ummm. Just kidding. Nobody touch me. I mean it.

I continued getting breaks between contractions and I’m telling you, it made the whole thing so much more doable. I could laugh and joke and chat between each. It was so civilized. Then I’d summon every relaxation technique I knew when I would feel a contraction coming on. If it came on steadily, I could manage the pain really well. Once in awhile I’d have one that would come on really strong right from the beginning, and then I would panic and tense and it hurt like crazy.

After a few more contractions I decided I was worn out. I asked Mary to break my water and she did.

[Tangent: I know there are women that feel empowered by childbirth (more power to them!), but I am not one of them. I feel empowered by many things, but childbirth isn’t on the list. Yes, I’m glad I’ve experienced it. No, it’s not my favorite thing. I’ve concluded there is no easy way to get that baby out of you. I’ve had 6 births. Half medicated, half un-medicated. And really, either way is exhausting and painful. Because this whole other person has to come out of your body. The last few minutes of labor just about kill me. I basically throw a 3-year-old tantrum where I fuss and yell that I can’t do it, that I don’t want to do it, that I want it to stop, that I hate it, that it’s too hard, etc. And at the same time I have another voice in my head that’s far more reasonable saying: you have to do it, you don’t have a choice, it won’t stop hurting till you do it, just do it.]

The last photo taken of me before I started pushing.
This is my midwife, Mary Wilterdink. She was wonderful. And she didn’t get mad at me when I threw a tantrum shortly after this picture was taken.

After my water was broken, Ben Blair stopped taking photos and the room got serious. I had a couple of intense contractions and then it was time to push. And suddenly she arrived. After one push. One really painful push with accompanying tantrum.

Then I calmed down. Then I met my daughter. And she was perfect. She looked so exactly like each of my other babies that I knew her immediately and said something like: Well hello. I’ve seen you before.

It was 9:10 pm. May 7th, 2010.

Meeting June for the first time.

The followup: June was tiny. 6 pounds even. (Blessed day: no stitches!) We settled into our recovery room at around midnight. The room had a bed for Ben Blair which was wonderful. I was ravenous and ate a giant sandwich. We got as much sleep as we could that night and the next morning we checked out as soon as possible. I couldn’t wait to get home and introduce Flora June to her brothers and sisters. You can read about June’s Homecoming here. Oh. And you can see lots more birth photos, and her newborn portraits too. And don’t miss her birth announcement either.

176 thoughts on “Flora June Blair’s Birth Story”

  1. This was an incredible read, thank you for sharing it. The photos are incredible, and put me to shame. How the heck do you look trendy walking down a hospital corridor in labour, woman? HOW!? I also feel a little inspired – your “relax shot” makes me think I need to do less fighting and more relaxing during my contractions. I fight each and everyone away. Next time, it may just be different…and how odd is it that I could be channeling that picture of you all zen-like in the middle of my labour on the other side of the world. Sorry if it’s creepy. That’s that.

  2. I was soo excited when I saw this posted this morning! I have been waiting to read June’s birth story for a while now, thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful experience. Please do continue posting others birth stories. I confess I have become a birth story addict, I probably read 4 or 5 on the internet each day, lol.

  3. Love the story and the photos – thanks for sharing! It’s one out of four for me with the breaking waters, three for drugs, one for without – the last one I lied and held on with the pushing so I could get the epidural to take the edge off – sneaky! – babe was born about 5 minutes after it kicked in, I was so desperate not to feel the tearing! Love the stories, I think forewarned is forearmed!

  4. Thank you for sharing your experience of June’s birth! You are beautiful during labor, must be that getting ready to hold that amazing little person glow :) I’ve done the “walk of shame” into the hospital only to be sent home, it’s never fun. I have the “joy” of primordial labor coupled with once labor really gets going (not just stuck in 5 min contractions with NO progress for days) the baby is born in no time flat. My water only broke naturally with my 4th, it freaked me out because before I was 10 cm & had to have it broke.

    Also, I really have enjoyed reading the stories of pregnancy/birth/adoption that the women have been sharing. I don’t always have the time comment but I have greatly enjoyed & been honored to read their experiences & all the different ways motherhood is entered into with joy, sometimes sorrow & always love.

  5. I loved reading this Gabrielle. I haven’t written down either of my birth stories, and I think this might have motivated me to do so. You look amazing in all the photos, by the way!

  6. yes please continue the series! i loved those stories! loved yours too! you look great in the pics and june is just adorable! love!

  7. Yes, please continue, as long as you have stories to share. I look forward to reading them every week!

  8. The photos look amazing, thanks for sharing your story and please keep it up!!! I’m not due until October!

  9. What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing. I think it’s amazing that our bodies and minds are so connected, like you not being able to progress until you were mentally calm.
    I loved the birth story series!

  10. Gabby…
    I love reading your posts. This one will go downs as a favorite because it is so filled with love, grace…yet practicality;) Congratulations to all of you. Thank you so much for sharing.

  11. Beautifully sweet, and well documented. Thank you. I love your closing lines to this birth story. I am tearing up as I type this to you.

    For what it’s worth I vote YES

  12. I have really enjoyed the birth stories you have posted, please keep them coming! I also have a walk of shame story, only it was a full 3 weeks before the actual birth, at least you were within a day! Thank you for sharing your precious story and pictures.

  13. Well done you! I have only had one labour and the first thing out of my mouth was ” I don’t want to do that again” because it was soooo hard but it has faded into the distance and I will certainly do it again so I can have the amazingly little person that comes out:) Thank you for sharing June’s story.

  14. Great story! I love hearing other people’s experiences in childbirth! Our society has made the whole thing so closed off and secret, it’s such a nice thing when people share.

    Speaking of which, YES! Continue with others stories. They are so interesting!

  15. This is beautiful (and so is June!). And thank you so much for writing about “the tantrum.” I had a similar experience near the end of both deliveries and felt so silly afterwards. I was sure no one else had ever felt like I did. My first delivery was hard (stitches!) and I kind of felt justified. Though my second baby was larger (9 lbs, 1 oz) she was a much easier delivery and I just felt ridiculous when I fell apart and said I couldn’t do it. I hope lots of women read this and understand that it’s normal and okay to have a tantrum.

  16. You – Gabrielle Blair are a wonderful story teller. That was an action-comedy-drama-suspense-love story! And to think I already knew the ending. Thanks for sharing. Flora June is precious. Best of luck to you and your fam.

  17. I love the pictures and the style of this story.

    I only have my one guy, and I pitched a massive, embarassing, toddler-style hissy fit when they told me it was time to push. He wasn’t exactly a planned baby, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a mom, and I acted in a way that kind of makes my eyes prickle when I think about it. Once he was here, though, I fell head over heels in love with him. Still takes my breath away. So, I guess, in a weird way, I’m glad that other moms who were in better places than me have the same sort of tantrum phase in labor.

    Also, is that Littleton Seventh Day? I had James there, and loved the L&D nurses. They are really cool with midwives, and they had a laboring tub. Love!

  18. Wow! You look amazing pregnant/during contractions/after birth!
    What a lovely story, it inspires me to record my own birth stories of my two daughters. Both born via cesarean (I feel I always need to explain it was not by choice) While not as interesting as a natural birth, they were welcomed in the same loving way but I just never wrote them down. You now have inspired me to.

  19. I had my son in September, by cesarean after 40 hours of labour that were *supposed* to end in a calm, quiet, home birth. I felt like a failure (and sometimes still do). Your birth and adoption stories really helped me put things into perspective, and brought me some peace. I would love to see them continue.

    Congratulations on your beautiful June.

  20. Thanks for sharing your story! Television and movies are so biased towards medicated births like that’s the only sensible way to have a baby in the civilized world, and I think that’s unfortunate because it leads so many women choose medication out of fear of the unknown and because they don’t have enough information and support from friends and family for natural childbirth. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not about to judge anyone for their personal decisions about childbirth; motherhood is hard enough and we are all making the best choices we can for ourselves and for our families. I just wish there was more information available to women about ALL of their birthing options, as well as more acceptance for all of the moms out there who are agonizing about all of these decisions and doing the best they can in their own circumstances. So I love, love, LOVE it that you’re posting these childbirth and adoption stories. Keep them coming!

  21. Gabby! That was great! Baby Blair is so very adorable. And you were so strong. I know you don’t feel empowered by childbirth, but oddly, I am one of those women who do… And I have never delivered naturally! (Just getting to 8.5 cm without an epidural felt like I ran & won a marathon)!

    I love, love, love this series. I am pregnant with number 4, and these stories have helped get me more excited each week. I am only 17 weeks, so I need more!

  22. Oh PLEASE continue the pregnancy and birth stories. You are design MOM! You post about your own design stuff, but also other people’s and you do it with such great editorial flair! So yes, you will post about your own mominess, but please continue finding and sharing good mommy stuff from other folks too! I have just decided to try for #2, in part with a little nudge of a yearning from reading your pregnancy and birth stories. Don’t stop now! PS. I totally posted my daughter’s birth story on my blog and am SO glad I did!

  23. Thanks for sharing your story and I’ve loved the others so would be happy if you wanted to continue them.

    Disconcerting as I’m sure it was, the full-stop to your labor made for a great story and is completely understandable. I had a friend who was way past her due date with her second baby, but had also just moved. I told her I thought if she’d unpack the last box, she’d go into labor. She did and, ten days late, her daughter arrived!

  24. Wonderful story! I had my first baby on Feb. 13th 2010 so I LOVED reading all the birth stories. And, like another poster, became slightly addicted. It was great to hear so many different situations as I planned for my own. Now I want to hear everyone’s! And I want to write my own. You look beautiful before and after birth! I really wish someone would have told me to re-ponytail my hair for all the post baby pictures. Sigh. :)

  25. So wonderful that you have all these photos to show her. Beautiful and very touching. You look fantastic in them by the way. I also made two trips to the hospital and it was an hour each way. The first time, she sent me home and told me it was false labor. By the time we got home, I was thinking “if this is ‘false’ labor, I will NEVER make it through the real thing”. Drove the hour back to the hospital and asked the nurse to please just check me again. I was almost ready to give birth at that point! I went through 4 hours of my labor in the back seat of the car – guess it was just good preparation for being a mom!

  26. I have to agree with everyone else who says to continue the birth series – I love every aspect of your blog, always, but I have to admit that I was especially looking forward to Wednesdays! In the middle of the series I discovered that I am pregnant with our second (surprise!) and I am so looking forward to having another birth experience of my own to share. (Am I crazy, looking forward to birth? I must be. It’s not like it was exactly fun or anything!)
    Sweet little June is beautiful, too, and I love those Blue Lily photos!

  27. I’ve been waiting for June’s birth story. After all the other ones, I knew the series wouldn’t be complete without hers. (But since we’ve decided not to have any more after our two wonderful boys, I may have to stop reading the birth stories. They just make me want another HA)

  28. Awesome. My first will be here in a little less than 3 months and I’ve loved reading all the birth stories you’ve posted here during your pregnancy, but especially this one. Congratulations!

  29. Thanks so much for sharing your story! I love reading about other women’s experiences and have really enjoyed the birth/adoption/pregnancy stories. Maybe I’ll actually write mine this time around and share it with you!

    (P.S. I especially like that you admitted to the ‘I can’t do this anymore, make it over’ tantrums ;oP I remember that moment with my first delivery, saying ‘I can’t do this’ and then doing it anyway becuase I had no choice.)

  30. Oh my goodness – I would love to keep reading birth stories! They were one of the favorite parts of my week. In fact since they’ve been gone I’ve been trolling around the internet in search for more well written stories.

    Yours (Flora June’s) is beautiful, I love your first words to her – so sweet.

  31. such a beautiful, beautiful story! i’m so glad your husband was able to take photos of you during the process – that is something we’d planned on but with all of our nerves and fears we didn’t take any!

    i voted a few months ago, i think, but i love the pregnancy series. :)

  32. A little tear in my eye. Your birth story was interesting and beautiful, but the tear is for the words you used. “I feel empowered by many things but giving birth isn’t on the list.” As a woman that couldn’t give birth, it stings when women say things like “I wasn’t a REAL woman until I gave birth.” “Women that birth babies suddenly know mysteries of the world the rest you don’t.” “Giving birth made me incredibly strong and powerful. Women realize just how amazing they are when they give birth!” While all these may be true…it stings when those of us that can’t do it hear this. I loved that you shared those words. It was like a little bit of salve to my “Mom soul”. I think the real power is in Mothering. Whether you’ve never given birth or raised a child. Thank you Miss Blair. Love you.

  33. Yes, definitely continue the birth stories! Wednesday had become my favourite “Design Mom” day! I don’t have any babies yet and am settling into the idea that we’re ready and reading these posts (even the “scary” unprepared, baby-on-the-stairwell, baby-in-the-car ones) make me feel less nervous and more excited about starting the process! Keep them up. And congratulations!

  34. Such beautiful pictures and such a beautiful baby girl! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I love the series, keep it up!

  35. Hahaha! I’m with you sister. I’m empowered by so many things, but pregnancy and labor was so NOT one of them. (Wendy, if you check back in…it ain’t all that and a box of chocolates. Women say that to make themselves feel better about being nuts enough to do it. Or at least that’s my philosophy.) We have 2 and we are officially d.o.n.e. If we decide we want more, we’re adopting.

    My water never broke either. It was one of my irrational fears. That and giving birth in the bathroom here at work. Our NPS Rangers have been dying to get a stork for their ambulance. (The joke was they get naming rights and it would be one of the men on the Mount. I don’t know what they’d do for a girl – Georgina? Theodora? Maybe Abby for old Abe?)

    I’d love to read more stories, even if it’s just a random thing and not the regular feature like they were. They’re so heartfelt and amazing. All of them.

  36. Thank you for sharing your story (and the others’ stories, too)! I’m glad to hear that someone else threw a tantrum, too. I only had one tantrum, but it was enough to prompt my nurse to strongly advise an epidural as she didn’t think I could handle it. I was offended, as I wanted to do it naturally, but secretly, I said “you are correct. bring it on.”

  37. Ha! That contraction photo didn’t even need a caption – I could feel your pain. Wow, I (almost) forget that kind of pain.

    Lovely post, please continue the motherhood series too. Loved the variety of stories and how some made me laugh or cry (the best emotions, right?).

  38. I just love reading all the birth stories, and this one about little June was just wonderful. Please, please, please continue posting the stories! My husband says I am just being nosy, but I am so interested in other people’s birth/adoption stories. I have 2 children myself, and it is intriguing to compare my birth experiences with others.

  39. How is it that you still look good during labor? Also I respect your ‘being empowered by childbirth’ comment. It’s nice to hear (or read) something like that from someone who has been through childbirth but realizes that there are other things that can be empowering. So thank you for that.

  40. I heart your birth stories and I even read all of them since I recently discovered your blog a few months ago! I think you should continue them! I gave birth for the first time in December, 2009 so it was nice to hear how other women went through it. All the mothers wrote such eloquent birth stories! Please, please continue them, my Wednesdays are not the same without them! :)

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